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East / West Shrine Game Practice Observations: Day Two

It is now Day Two of the East/West Shrine Game practices.  There is a bit more excitement in the air.  The players are a little more relaxed and the crowd is a little bigger as more NFL luminaries are here.  I hope to see some more hitting today and better concentration.  Chances are you won’t find players listed here as first round rookie picks, fantasy or NFL, but there are always diamonds in the rough just waiting to be found.

Once again I will start with the East practice, headed by former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville.  Coach was very active today especially with the defensive backs. He ran a high tempo workout.  The most improved player, in my humble opinion, was wide receiver Blake Emory from Auburn.  He was running sharp routes and looking the passes right into his hands.  Emory made a few nice catches in traffic, including a spectacular one-handed grab at the sideline.  The wide receiver got mostly clean releases off the line and added a little shake move to make his coverage hesitate.

Marcus Davis, the wide receiver from Virginia Tech, had a solid practice, but was not outstanding.  He hustled more than the majority of the receivers, which included his blocking on passing plays once another receiver caught the ball.  Davis did a good job finding the ball, making adjustments in the air and catching the football at its highest point.  The wide receiver also made a nice bucket catch on the sidelines.  He didn’t show much improvement over the first day in my eyes.

Army’s wide receiver/quarterback Trent Steelman still did his damage on the slant routes, but also looked more comfortable in his familiar role as an option quarterback.  He did a good job holding the defense’s attention before pitching it.

Erik Highsmith, the wide receiver from North Carolina, caught almost everything out in front of him.  He ran crisp routes, got decent separation from the defensive backs, and was leaping high to come down with a few contested balls.

Florida State wide receiver Rodney Smith has very good body control and can climb the ladder to catch the ball.  On Monday, he made a nice reception in the back of the end zone and made sure both feet were in bounds.  He ran sharp routes, made a good fake on a corner and played physical even against double coverage.  He just missed what would have been a fantastic one-handed catch and had another ball knocked out of his hands at the last second.

Corey Fuller, the wide receiver from Virginia Tech, had another decent day.  He does a good job getting his body up in the air to catch the ball at its highest point.  Fuller is a very physical player who boxed out his coverage and blocked well downfield.

Navy wide receiver Brandon Turner seemed to take a step back from yesterday.  He looked less physical as he struggled against forceful coverage.  He did not body catch as much as he did the day before, even so Turner seemed to be a bit off his game.

Tight ends Lucas Reed from New Mexico and Chris Pantale from Boston College ran good routes and caught well in traffic – they did not distinguish themselves, though.  Super-sized tight end D. C. Jefferson from Rutgers (6′ 6″) looks skinny even at his program listed 250 lbs.  He ran a nice seam route, but is not physical enough to play an in-line tight end.  Too bad Jefferson isn’t fast or agile enough to play a joker tight end role, either.

As far as the East quarterbacks go, I was a little impressed today with Nathan Stanley from SE Louisiana.  He threw a few floaters that hung up for too long,  but then rebounded nicely with some passes that were on a rope 15 to 20 yards down the field.  Stanley was working on selling handoff and head fakes that slowed up the defense.  On the other hand, Collin Klein from Kansas State, looked to run more than throw and struggled passing on the run.  He was not very accurate on most of his throws.

A little shout out to my IDP peeps, Miami Hurricane cornerback Brandon McGee skied high to come down with an interception near the end of practice.  Once the ball was in his hands, he was like lightning out there as he was weaving in and out of would-be tacklers.  With that kind of wiggle, someone should give him a chance to return kicks or punts.

Last but not least, I want to talk about the East running backs.  Zac Stacy had a solid day and showed off some toughness filling in at fullback.  He has a nice stutter-step that sets up the defense and he uses a nice shoulder dip that causes them to hesitate while putting them on roller skates.  Stacy leans his head down, gets low, and pushes through the line of scrimmage.  A New England scout I met at while dining was really impressed with his lunch pail workmanship.  It was concerning to see his ankles double taped, but maybe they are a bit sore after all the carries he is handling in practice and in his bowl game.

Ray Graham, the running back from Pittsburgh, had a little better day today than he did yesterday.  He kept his legs churning, saw the field well and took sharp angles.  Graham has a nice jump cut, and isn’t afraid to hit defenders.  He has soft hands and had a bucket catch of his own.  Temple’s Montel Harris had a decent day as the third back out there.  He has good lateral movement, but is the least physical back of the East.

The West coaching staff decided to include the use of shoulder pads today, but no one was wearing any leg pads at all – this surprised me a little, but to each their own.  I had a great view of the West’s practice as I had NFLN’s Bucky Brooks to my left for the majority of the practice (Brooks has been scouting for years, so I know I picked the right spot).

Now onto the West….

I was fortunate enough to walk to practice amongst a few of the players.  One of those players was Texas A&M running back Christine Michael.  He is very thick and muscular with big legs. He showed a lot of effort bursting through the line and would run 30 yards down the field at the end of each play he carried the ball.  Michael ran very close to the ground, took good angles and seemed to read his blockers well.  Out of all the players practicing for the West, he impressed me the most as he was going all out on every play.

Kerwynn Williams, the running back from Utah State, did not jump off the field like he did the day before.  He does a good job finding a crease and exposing it for decent chunks of yardage.  He has some shiftiness to him and got compact, not giving defenders much to hit.  He ran crisp routes and has very small hands.  I am a little concerned about his skinny legs as they reminded me of Darren McFadden’s.

UCLA’s tight end Jospeh Fauria has left St. Petersburg due to an undisclosed injury and will not play on Saturday.  Tight end Josh Hill from Idaho State did a good job catching with his hands, kept himself under control during his routes, showed nice concentration and demonstrated decent speed.  The other tight end, Zach Sudfeld from Nevada, is like I said yesterday, a mudder.  He catches the ball nicely, but doesn’t have much speed or power after the catch.  If you throw him the ball five yards down the field, Sudfeld might get you seven yards in total.

The receivers as a whole for the West, looked much better yesterday.  A favorite of mine, Eastern Kentucky’s Tyrone Goard, had a mixed day.  He looked very thin and struggled in the power department.  Cornerbacks did a good job of jamming him at the line, especially when he ran inside routes.  Goard battled back from some of the physical coverage (mostly on the outside), and tracked the ball well in the air.  He looked a little gimpy a few times he can back to the huddle, but kept on fighting through it.  He does a good job at catching the ball in front of him while running at full speed. He had a beautiful catch on the sidelines that showed his concentration.

Jasper Collins, the receiver from Mt. Union, also had a less than impressive day.  He struggled to get off the line from press coverage.  The wide receiver was much better in slot with the free release.  Collins has good body control and can start/stop on  dime.  He runs clean routes and had a nice deep sideline reception.

Mississippi State’s wide receiver, Chad Bumpis, had an interesting day.  He is very sudden coming in and out of breaks, but he rounds out his routes.  When a defensive back was keying on him, he concentrated and made the catch.  Then on the next play, he dropped a better thrown pass for what appeared to be no reason.

Dan Buckner, the wide receiver from Arizona, caught the ball in front of him and played very physical by shielding the defender from the ball.  He is quite good at making quick/sharp breaks.  Buckner was the most improved receiver of both the East and West practices today.

Iowa’s Keenan Davis ran a bit out of control.  He rounds off his routes and takes a long time to break down once he reaches full speed.  Davis looked for the ball too late and fought his hands at times.  Davis made a few nice deep catches, but he was just too inconsistent.

Anthony Amos, a Middle Tennessee State receiver, had a day with ups and downs.  He ran crossing patterns well and climbed the ladder getting to high thrown passes.  However, Amos ran out of control as he had difficulty slowing down to make breaks and fought the ball at times.  He had lapses of concentration that were easy to see.

Another treat for you IDPers – Howard’s outstanding linebacker prospect, Keith Pough, was all over the field.  He demonstrated good vision, lateral movement, and has a nose for the ball.  I am looking forward to tomorrow as I hope to see more hitting and less special team work.

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Justin Kilmer
9 years ago

In you Shrine Bowl Game break down are you going to have a section that shows winners and losers, or something like that?

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